Carol, Martine

(1920-1967)
   Actress. Born Marie-Louise Mourer in the Val-de-Marne region of France, Martine Carol had no ambitions of becoming an actress until, in her late teens, she met the actor André Luguet, who is reported to have encouraged her. Following Luguet's advice, Carol enrolled in dramatic courses and then sought a career onstage. Her first role was in Racine's Phèdre under the stage name Maryse Arley.
   While performing onstage, Carol caught the attention of director Henri-Georges Clouzot. Clouzot intended to cast Carol in a film he was making, but the film was never done. He did, however, succeed in getting her a bit part in Georges Lacombe's Le Dernier des six (1941). This bit part introduced Carol to the world of cinema and led to a role in Richard Pottier's La Ferme aux loups (1943). It was at the encouragement of François Perier, her costar in La Ferme aux loups, that Carol adopted the stage name of Martine Carol.
   From 1943 until 1955, Carol enjoyed increasing success in her film career. Her presence onscreen was, from the beginning, driven in large measure by her physical beauty and by her willingness to put her body visibly in the frame, so there should be little wonder that she became a first-rate femme fatale. She would incarnate onscreen many legendary historical and literary bad girls in films such as Lucrèce Borgia (1953), Madame du Barry (1953), and Nana (1954), all directed by Christian-Jacque, whom she would later marry. She also did a series of films made especially for her, starting with Caroline Chérie (1950), a period drama in which she again played an aristocratic heroine and in which she was again directed by Pottier. The sequels included Caprice de Caroline Chérie (1953). Other noteworthy films include Lysistrata (1953), also directed by Christian-Jacque, and Secrets d'alcôve (1953), directed by Jean Delannoy.
   Ironically, Carol's career was all but undone by another historical femme fatale, as her role in Max Ophuls's Lola Montés (1955), itself an enormous failure, put a taint on Carol that she was hard pressed to shake. The film was unusually long, shot in vivid color in a style that was very postmodern and completely at odds with the filmmaking of the time. The avant-garde nature of the film and the overtly sexual and very powerful nature of the character proved too much for audiences of the day. The film anticipates in some ways the characteristics both of the post-1968 sexual liberation that would infuse cinema and the filmmaking style of the cinéma du look. Ironically, with time it has come to be regarded as something of a master-piece, and Carol's performance in it is widely regarded as one of her best. Nonetheless, it nearly ended her career.
   Following Lola Montés, Carol made a handful of other films, including Christian-Jacque's Nathalie (1957), Austerlitz (1960), directed by Abel Gance, and Michel Boisrond's Un Soir sur la plage (1960). She gave a very compelling performance in Roberto Rossellini's Vanina Vanini (1961), and also appeared in Gilles Grangier's La Cave se rebiffe (1961). Her last film in French was George Lautner's En plein cirage (1961).

Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. . 2007.

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  • Martine Carol — (* 16. Mai 1920 in Saint Mandé, Val de Marne; † 6. Februar 1967 in Monte Carlo; eigentlich Marie Louise „Maryse“ Jeanne Nicolle Mourer) war eine französische Schauspielerin. Neben einigen Bühnenauftritten im Paris trat sie ab Anfang der 1940er… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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